Saturday, December 20, 2008

Family Hilarity.

I love my family. This will be a short blog, but I just wanted to share a funny story about something that happened last night. As background, my family has a tradition of setting up the Christmas tree all together every year, and we have been adding the new guys into the family (Jill and Becky's husbands, and Shelley's fiance). Because of this, my mom has had to buy new stockings for the guys. When Jill's husband was first with us, my mom got him one, but it didn't match the rest of ours. And since we're adding on two new members to the family, my mom decided to buy all new ones for the guys.

Here's the catch.

She bought 4. Think about this for a minute, guys. She bought one for Jill's husband, one for Becky's husband, and one for Shelley's fiance. That makes 3. This means that the fourth is for my future husband! Holy Cow! Talk about pressure! Here's what's even more funny: my mom actually put the stocking up on the fireplace! So my future husband's stocking is there, for everyone to see! I have no idea who it's going to be, I have no prospects, and here I am stuck with this stocking for my mystery man! Shoot... Haha! It's actually pretty hilarious. Hopefully my husband one day will think so... :) Shelley's fiance, Mike, said that we should actually fill it up every year from now on until I meet him so that when he finally gets here, he'll have a whole pile of candy/miscellaneous gifts waiting for him. Ha! Oh dear. I'm just glad I'm only 19. There's not TOO much pressure for me right now! All I know is that my parents are expecting me to get married at SOME point in time. lol!

I love my family. :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

End of the Semester Thoughts

I'm thinking back on this semester and wondering, "Where in the world did the time go?" So many things happened, yet it all happened so fast. It's hard to believe that I am halfway through my sophomore year of college. Am I really that old? Am I really almost out of my teenage years? That doesn't seem quite right to me. I feel as if I'm just a little kid wandering around in a huge city, not really knowing what she's doing. And in a sense, I really am.

Being in Chicago has been intimidating, to say the very least. It was really hard to get used to at first. Now that I am actually used to the idea of living in the middle of downtown Chicago, the thought of being here brings excitement and wonder of what opportunities I'll find when I venture out next. Walking down Michigan Ave. has become one of the funniest parts of my days when I have the opportunity to go there. So many people taking pictures, gawking at the skyscrapers and being in awe of this large city. And here I am, watching them, laughing because I know that I live here and it really isn't that big of a deal anymore. Sure, it's still cool and every once in a while I feel the desire to take pictures. But I love how easy it is to pick out the tourists among the people who are actually from Chicago.

I think I like it here in Chicago. It was a really difficult switch from Spokane, but Chicago is a completely different experience, and I am loving every minute of it. Though I do and will always miss my friends in Washington, I know that God has me here in Chicago for a reason and a purpose. I do not know exactly what that is yet, but I'm excited to find out. He has me here for school (obviously), but I know that He wants to teach me so much more, and I can't wait to see what it is. It may be difficult as it has already started out to be, but that's okay. I know that He is growing me and shaping me to become more like Himself, and that thought is one of the most exciting thoughts of all.

Moody Bible Institute. What can I say about this wonderful school? The professors are amazing, the people are wonderful, and the atmosphere is awesome. I have learned and been challenged more here than ever before. It's so incredibly exciting. Of course I've had bumps in the road this semester with problems with people, and difficulties in my classes, but I count all these things blessings. Why? Because everything happens for a reason. God doesn't just let something happen in my life just because. He does it to grow me, to show me something. And He has definitely done just that this entire semester. I have gained friendships, and even lost friendships. But God is still good through it all. Even though I make mistake after mistake and I turn my back on Him so many times, He is still good and faithful, and will still love me regardless of what I do. What an incredible thought this is! I cannot believe just how amazing He is to me.

I'm excited to see what God has in store for me next semester. It is going to be a completely different one from this semester, and I have no idea what kinds of things I'll experience and go through. I'll have more difficult classes, there will be new girls on my floor, and I will have some friends come and some friends leave. Even my brother floor is completely changing next semester. My buddies are moving to different floors, or they're taking the semester off, or they're going to a completely different country (Jeremy... *grumble grumble*). While this is difficult, I know that God has other friends in store to come and for me to come in contact with, and I'm excited to meet them.

I'm excited to be growing so much in Christ this year, even though it has been a very difficult journey, and it still is. But God is faithful, and He will not abandon me. I love Him with my whole heart, and I long to serve Him with everything I have and everything I am. He saved my life, and the least I can do is live my life to praise and worship Him.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


This is a short story that I've been working on for a while now. It's a little graphic at parts, just to forewarn you all. Please let me know what you think.


She looked in the drawer, afraid of what she might find. This drawer held everything from her past. Everything. Movie tickets, pictures of friends, liquor labels, and gifts from a few of her ex-boyfriends. She knew she had to look at them. Everything. But why, God? Can't these things just stay in my past, where they belong?

I want you to see them, my love. And see how I have worked through everything.

She sighed, dropped to her knees, and gingerly opened the drawer. She cringed, as the first thing her eyes came upon was a dvd. Tears started rolling down her face as she remembered with disgust, the night they filmed it. She hadn't wanted to do it. She had told him that it was embarrassing, and humiliating. But he used the line, "If you loved me, you would do this." And so she crumbled and gave in to him. He filmed it all, and would not be satisfied until they had made it perfect. Two weeks later, he gave her the dvd. And now here it sat, swept under the rug. She never wanted to lay her eyes upon this wretched thing ever again. She shook her head as she remembered that fateful day, when he walked up to her and told her that they were finished. It was not a month after they had filmed this movie. She shuddered to think that he may still have his copy. She did not want to know whether or not he still watched it.

I have covered this, my love.

She began to cry. Tears of sorrow, shame, and regret. Unable to hide the pain any longer, she clutched her stomach and let the tears flow freely, uncontrollably. She began to cry aloud, wondering where God was in the most painful time of her life. Times filled with drunken nights, drug fixes, and unspeakable acts.

I was here, the whole time.

The hopelessness started to fill her again, as she remembered those days of complete and utter darkness. How did she ever survive? How did she continue on, without any real purpose or meaning in her life?

Then the tears settled. She began to think on her Savior, and the true hope that He brought her. She had found Him only months ago, at a conference that one of her "religious friends" had brought her to. The passion and the intensity that the praise times held moved her beyond anything she had ever experienced. These people really loved this "God", who had seemingly made no positive impact on her life in the past. Her parents were divorced, her stepfather abused her and her mother, and her older brother committed suicide when she was just eleven. She grew up hating God. She hated everything He stood for. His promises of life were empty. She saw nothing from Him. She looked at Christians with disdain, thinking that all of them grew up in perfect homes with no problems whatsoever.

And then she met Catie, who had a story similar to her own. Except it was worse, much worse. This girl grew up without ever knowing her father and seeing her mother with a new man every week. And every single one of these men abused her and treated her in a way that no one should ever be treated. Then one fateful day one of her mother's ex-boyfriends showed up at the house, gun in hand. He stormed in the house and headed straight for her mother. She covered her eyes as the shots were fired, then felt a surge of pain as the butt of the gun struck her head. The next thing she knew, she was on the floor, waking up hours later to see both her mother and the ex-boyfriend on the floor... dead.

When Catie told her this story, she was amazed at this woman's strength. She cried a few tears, but then a smile formed on her face and said, "I am just so glad that my mom was a Christian. I know I'll see her again. I have hope, Nikki. Immense hope that I will one day be reunited with my mother in heaven. Sure, I could get down on myself and think that I've lived such a hard life, but that's not what God would have me do. I'm standing here before you, healthy. That's enough for me to praise God for the rest of my life."

She just looked at Catie, stunned. She had then asked, "But God took your mother away from you. How could you ever forgive him for that?"

Catie shook her head and smiled. "He didn't take her away. Her ex-boyfriend took her away. I don't think that's the way that God wanted her to go, but he knew that through fallen humanity she would be gone before her time. But I don't blame God at all. God has a purpose through it all, even though I don't know what it is yet. Sure I was mad at Him for a while, but He didn't kill her. Her ex-boyfriend did."

Lying on the floor sorting through this memory, Nikki began to weep. She remembered that day so clearly, because it was the first time she met Him. She asked Catie to pray with her so she could have the same hope. Now she looked up from her prostrate position and saw it: the Bible Catie had given her when she became a believer. She rose and walked to her bedside table, and picked it up. Her tears hit the cover and she wiped them off with her sleeve. Sitting down on the edge of her bed, she opened to a page and read the words that were highlighted. She smiled and laughed when she read the words,

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free."

I have set you free, my love. You are free from your past. You are free from your sins. You no longer have to worry. I have covered them. I love you. You are My child. Rest, dear one.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Friends = Servants.

My life is full of joy, laughter, friendships, and love. But among the good, there is an equal share of the bad. Confusion, sadness, and hardships. But through it all, God is still good and faithful.

I am a 19-year old sophomore at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL. I am nearing the end of my first semester, and thinking back about everything that has happened, I find myself in awe and wonder of God's mercy and grace toward me.

I am an extrovert. I love to connect with people of all types. I love to laugh, and anyone who really knows me will attest to this fact. I LOVE my friends. I invest myself 100% into every single friendship that I have. Almost all of them, anyway. However, many times this becomes difficult for me. While I deeply enjoy being around others and loving on them, many times it is not reciprocated. However, don't get me wrong. I say this not to make anyone feel pity for me, but I simply say it because it is how I view many of my friendships in my life. I look around and I wonder, am I the only one who cares about my friendship with this person? If I did not invest as much time as I do in all my friendships, then would my friends still stick around? Would they call, text, or try to spend time with me? Unfortunately, many times the answer to these questions has been no. And that is when I am able to find my true friends, because they are the ones who have not left me. They have not left me even in my worst moments. They have not left me even when I have stopped calling. They have stayed with me even when I did not stay with them.

But sometimes, I still feel hopeless. In coming to a new campus this fall, I have made many new friends. But many times I have had to stop and ponder whether or not these friendships are real. Unfortunately, a vast majority of my friendships have ended up being superficial, and have resulted in being a quick "hey, how's it goin'?" in the hallway, while still others have dropped to a depressing passing glance as we pass each other on campus.

Why is it so difficult to find a real friend? To find those who are just as interested in being close with me, as I am with them?

The reason, I am finding, is because my focus has been placed on the wrong thing. My focus has been on myself. What can I get out of my friendships, and what can my friends do for me? I shake my head in shame. This is not the way that I as a Christian believer should be acting. I should not be so self-centered as to want others to make my life comfortable, easy, and enjoyable. But it is my responsibility to take the focus off of myself and joyfully serve others. My Savior, Jesus Christ, was a servant above all servants. When He did not have to, He washed His disciples feet - the dirtiest and lowliest of all the servant jobs.

Not only that, but even above washing the disciple's feet, he performed the ultimate act of friendship by dying in the place of his friends. Even dying in the place of his enemies! Christ was willing to take that punishment upon Himself so that others may not be placed in hell for eternity, but that they may believe in His name and may be saved and be in a personal and right relationship with God the Father.

Jesus Christ was the ultimate servant. He made Himself nothing and gave me everything. Can I not take my eyes off of myself for one moment and give a little back to Him? Can I not thank Him by living for Him and letting my focus be on His sacrifice? I think... I think that if we all as Christians did this, our friendships and our relationships would reflect something much different. They would reflect the light of Jesus Christ. They would reflect a selfless love, which is exactly what Christ has for us.

O God, that You may help me to become more like Your Son, who humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross so that I may live.